The press, others, and even myself have made much of the Media Lab and One Laptop Per Child’s decision to embrace a platform that is fully free and open. There are two major reasons for working with the free world on this project. The first is the philosophical reasons that I’ve laid out recently. The second is the fact that a free platform will help us leverage the work of a large community to accomplish building, testing, and improving what we believe will ultimately develop into a new and more relevant type of software platform for the world’s children.
In terms of building community, our first goal must be harnessing the power of the existing free software world and interested parties therein. Later on (i.e., once the machines exist) we can focus on getting governments, non-profits, and ultimately some of the students using the machine, to contribute as well. While there’s clearly a bootstrapping phase, we unfortunately, we haven’t done much of either so far.
Up until now, Red Hat has been doing the legwork in the realm of software. So much so that at points it has been difficult even for some of us officially working on the project (e.g., myself) to make meaningful contributions. While we’ve had many people express interest in helping with the project from elsewhere in MIT and in non-MIT world, we’ve been at a loss for ways to plug folks in.
As part of a larger effort to address these issues in the next month or so, Walter Bender, myself, and David Cavallo are organizing a short workshop on getting involved in the OLPC/$100 laptop project for people at MIT. We will also be posting information from that workshop online for everyone. If you’re at MIT and are interested, please show up. If you are in the area but without an MIT or Harvard affiliation, contact me. If you’re out of the area and are interested in getting involved, just stay tuned.
The workshop is being offered as a three hours one-day-only IAP class. You can check out the IAP web page and then show up.
We will be done with plenty of time to rest up before the MIT mystery hunt begins. It looks like I’ll be hunting with Codex Dresden.